God’s Wise and Orderly World
Proverbs 3:19-20 “The Lord by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding he established the heavens; by his knowledge the deeps broke open, and the clouds drop down the dew.”
I have a friend with a bad head cold, which is making the rounds in Texas. When I spoke with her yesterday she couldn’t remember what day it was because she was “foggy,” either from the medication, she is taking or from the cold. I woke up feeling groggy myself, and still am a little bit sluggish, even after coffee. I wonder if I am also fighting something because coffee usually does the trick to wake me up. Something is unsettling about being disorderly and discombobulated (as my mother used to say). We like to have our days at least start with some order, even if they seem to disintegrate into disarray later, because God made us in his image, as orderly creatures who are central to the symmetry of God’s creation.
The proverb’s passage speaks of God’s founding and establishing the world with understanding and wisdom. “The essential point is that God has built the principles of wisdom into the structure of the world itself; wisdom is the ordering principle by which everything functions and does not devolve into chaos.” (1) Alertness to life and the way we live is required to be wise, but a legalistic order is not. “When one lives without integrity, one violates the very rules whereby everything is held together. One cannot do this and thrive.” (1) I find this reflection on Proverbs 3:19-20 helpful because integrity is called to account, not order like planning or scheduling, but personal veracity and honor, which is only possible by God’s good grace.
Many people I know, who do not believe in God’s creation of the world would not agree with my blog post this morning. They are confident that their integrity, which is commendable, is based on their intentions to uphold a high standard of personal excellence. But how would it be possible for a creature created by mere chance to know what is good and right, to behave according to those ethics? The ESV Study Bible points out, “The essential point is that God has built the principles of wisdom into the structure of the world itself; wisdom is the ordering principle by which everything functions and does not devolve into chaos.” (2)
It is one thing to know and believe that God’s wisdom has created and sustains the world and yet another to yield to his wise restraints, as the heaven stays in its place, separated from the earth. On the other hand, we may not recognize or apply the outpouring of his grace, like the waters from the deep or the dew from the clouds. “Since God’s wisdom created such a well-ordered world for Him, God’s wisdom can surely create a well-ordered world in our lives.” (3) How will you attend to and respond to the Lord’s wisdom today?
(1) ESV Study Bible Notes, Proverbs 3:19-20, (digital edition), Crossway, 2008.
(3) The Reformation Study Bible, Proverbs 3:20, Reformation Trust Publishing (Ligonier Ministries), Sanford, Fl., 2015.